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UPDATE: Feds Recommend 1 Year For Ex-Mingo Prosecutor

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 2/28/2014 11:05 AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The government is seeking the maximum punishment of one year in prison for a former Mingo County prosecutor.

Michael Sparks is scheduled to be sentenced next Wednesday in Charleston federal court on a corruption charge.

Sparks and ex-Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury were accused of protecting the late Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum bought drugs from a campaign sign maker. Authorities said Sparks and Thornsbury kept the sign maker, George White, from talking to the FBI about Crum, who was killed in an unrelated shooting last April.

Prosecutors called Sparks' conduct "deplorable."

Last year, Sparks pleaded guilty to depriving White of his constitutional rights and Thornsbury pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive White of his rights.

Thornsbury will be sentenced in April.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE 2/20/2014 10:50 AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A former Mingo County prosecutor's sentencing in a federal corruption investigation is pushed back a week.

Media outlets report Michael Sparks will be sentenced March 5 in U.S. District Court in Charleston. Sparks had been scheduled for sentencing next Monday.

Sparks and former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury were accused of protecting the late Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum bought drugs from a campaign sign maker. Authorities said Sparks and Thornsbury kept the sign maker, George White, from talking to the FBI about Crum, who was killed in an unrelated shooting last April.

Last year, Sparks pleaded guilty to depriving White of his constitutional rights and Thornsbury pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive White of his rights.

Thornsbury is set for sentencing on April 21.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE 1/30/2014 10:50 AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A former secretary's lawsuit against former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury is scheduled to go to trial in December.

Media outlets report that Judge Tod Kaufman set a Dec. 15 trial date during a hearing Wednesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Kim Woodruff's lawsuit accuses Thornsbury of sexually harassing her and wrongly firing her.

Thornsbury pleaded guilty last October to federal charges of conspiring to deprive a convicted drug dealer of his constitutional rights. He resigned from the bench and is scheduled to be sentenced April 21.

Kaufman said a deposition from Thornsbury in the civil case can wait until after he is sentenced. Thornsbury's lawyers had requested the delay.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE 1/17/2014 4:05 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A former Mingo County commissioner who pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge agreed to pay $7,700 in restitution to two tire companies.

David Baisden pleaded guilty in October to trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount in 2009, then terminating the county's contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate.

Federal prosecutors say Baisden cost Appalachian Tire tens of thousands of dollars.

The agreement reached Thursday calls for Baisden to make monthly restitution payments over three years to Appalachian Tire and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Baisden is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 29 in federal court in Charleston.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE 11/5/2013 10:00 AM

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) - Scandal-plagued Mingo County has a new prosecutor and commissioner.

The County Commission on Wednesday chose interim prosecutor Teresa Maynard to permanently replace her former boss, Michael Sparks.

It also appointed school board member Mike Carter to replace ex-county commissioner Dave Baisden.

Media outlets say Maynard was immediately sworn in, but Carter must wait until he resigns from the board.

Both Sparks and Baisden resigned their posts last month after they were charged in separate cases that grew out of an ongoing federal investigation of political corruption.

Though both were implicated in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he'd bought drugs, only Sparks was charged in that case.

Baisden awaits sentencing on an unrelated federal extortion charge.

Crum was killed in April in an unrelated shooting.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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UPDATE 11/4/2013 2:20 PM

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) - The Mingo County Commission is expected to name a new county prosecutor and county commissioner this week.

Former prosecutor Michael Sparks and former Commissioner David Baisden resigned in October after they were charged in separate cases stemming from a corruption probe.

The commission interviewed candidates to replace Sparks and Baisden on Monday. Commissioners plan to name a new prosecutor and magistrate at their meeting on Wednesday.

Sparks is accused in a scheme to protect Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he'd bought drugs. Drum died in April in an unrelated shooting.

Baisden pleaded guilty in October to a federal extortion charge.

A Nov. 18 plea hearing is set for Sparks.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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UPDATE 10/11/2013 05:40 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Supreme Court has nullified the law license of a Mingo County prosecutor who resigned amid continuing corruption scandals.

The court announced late Friday that Michael Sparks had dropped plans to fight the license suspension that the Office of Disciplinary Counsel had been demanding.

Sparks resigned Wednesday, the same day the U.S. Attorney's Office charged him with conspiracy. His lawyer announced at the time he would agree to surrender his law license.

He said Sparks regrets his mistakes.

Sparks is accused in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he'd bought drugs from a campaign sign-maker.

Prosecutors allege Sparks, a former county commissioner and former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury offered a lighter sentence if the dealer fired his lawyer and hired one they preferred.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - The Office of Disciplinary Counsel says embattled Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks lied to the state Supreme Court when he said last week that he didn't know about alleged corruption by a now-suspended circuit judge.

The group's third complaint, filed late Wednesday, again demands suspension of Sparks' law license.

It says Sparks admitted to the FBI that he knew about crimes and misconduct that federal prosecutors say Judge Michael Thornsbury has committed.

In one case, federal prosecutors say Thornsbury tried to frame a romantic rival for false crimes.

He's expected to plead guilty next week in a second case that was aimed at protecting a former sheriff's reputation by putting a drug supplier in prison.

Sparks maintained his innocence Thursday in a response filed by his attorney, Lonnie Simmons.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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